Quick Cap episode 11 “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” — recap, review, etc.

We learn the man in the mirror’s dramatic back story and get confirmation once again — as if we needed any more confirmation — that the Evil Queen is truly evil. The episode ends with two twists, one in each world.


The man in the mirror is an Aladdin-like genie who feels imprisoned in his lamp. King Leopold, Snow’s father, generously uses one of his wishes to give the genie his freedom. But wishes, like Rumpelstiltskin’s magic, come with a price — and wishes always backfire.

The genie falls in love at first sight with the Evil Queen (who we learn is called Regina in the fairytale world too). The EQ, meanwhile, feels despondent because she knows Leopold will never love her the way he loved his first wife (Snow’s mother).

The EQ (aided by her father, who is still alive in this piece of the backstory) leads the genie to believe that she will commit suicide-by-viper. The genie has a brainstorm — use the snakes to kill the King instead.

But, in the first twist in the episode, we see the EQ has been manipulating the genie all along. She never intended to kill herself. She doesn’t love the genie. She used him to get what she wanted. The genie doesn’t care. He just loves her and wants to be with her forever. Ooops! He shouldn’t have wished for that. Now we know how he got into that mirror.

In Storybrooke, Sidney corners Emma and says he’s had a falling out with the mayor. All of a sudden he’s gone from being the mayor’s toady to being an investigative journalist who wants to go all Watergate on the mayor’s butt.

He convinces an initially reluctant Emma to join in his crusade to prove that Regina has stolen $50,000 from the city to build another home for herself in the woods.

In the end, though, it turns out that the mayor was building a children’s playground in the woods. It seems innocent enough, except that the playground just happened to look like King Leopold’s castle, and it had something to do with a late-night meeting with Mr. Gold in the middle of woods, which surely couldn’t have been a good thing.

And then, the twist ending: Sidney was working for Regina all along.

Also, Mary Margaret and David have a romantic picnic, and the Mysterious Stranger reappears. He now has Henry’s book.

What I liked most

I liked the man in the mirror’s backstory. Considering we had only seen him before as a (literally) two-dimensional character, the liveliness of his backstory was a pleasant surprise.

I liked the cameo reappearance of the EQ’s father.

I loved both twist endings. Both of them took me by surprise.


Much of the Storybrooke plot had to do with Emma and Regina locking horns in a power struggle once again, making their moves via law, procedure, town meetings, etc. And once again, I found it hard to believe any of it, as I kept on thinking Regina could just point her finger at Emma, unleash a thunderbolt, and be rid of her once and for all.

Theme: Freedom, imprisonment, and love

Sidney, as a genie, yearned for freedom so he could find love. When he was finally free and fell in love, he gave away his freedom in order to keep his one-sided love going. He ended up where he began — imprisoned inside an inanimate object.

Regina felt imprisoned in her marriage to the King. She lied to Sidney, telling him she sought freedom in suicide, when she really sought it in murder. But was she really free after the King was dead?

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

The episode’s title has at least two meanings.

First it’s a term of art in law, where it means that evidence obtained by illegal means, and any evidence obtained later as a result of the initial illegal act, cannot be used in court. Emma used illegal means — bugging Regina’s office — to find out where Regina was going. Any evidence Emma might have found after chasing Regina would have been inadmissible, because it would all be the “fruit” of the “poisonous” illegal bug. Same thing with the breaking and entering into Regina’s office.

In Storybrooke, though, the law of evidence operates in semi-magical ways. In a more normal place, the evidence might have been discarded because it was thrown out in court. Here, though, the evidence that Emma thought she found of Regina’s wrongdoing had to be discarded because it turned out not to be what it seemed.

In Storybrooke, the means can’t justify the ends. There has to be an alignment of method and results. Emma cannot find the truth unless she uses the right methods.

The second meaning of the episode title is that it’s a reference to Regina’s poisonous apples. We saw Regina tending her apple tree in both worlds in this episode.

There could be some other meanings too:

It could be a reference to the poisonous snakes that killed the King. The “fruit” of that event was the genie evoking the third wish.

It could also be a reference to the genie getting involved with the Evil Queen in the first place. She, being evil, is poisonous, and everything that happens to the genie after he throws his lot in with her must also be poisonous.

LOST references?

Didn’t see any this time.


Is it possible that Sidney is really working against Regina? Could he be a double agent, and could his alliance with Emma be the real one after all?

Why did the Mysterious Stranger take Henry’s book? In the comments section of last week’s recap, several people thought that the Mysterious Stranger was the author of Henry’s book, which I thought was a great idea. But, if so, why would he steal his own book? Also, I noticed that this week Henry seemed to share my initial skepticism about whether the Mysterious Stranger was really a writer at all. If he’s not a writer, who could he be? And how did he get into Storybrooke?

9 responses to “Quick Cap episode 11 “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree” — recap, review, etc.

  1. I just wanted the creators of Once Upon A Time, to know that I and
    my grandaughter just love your show, it is one of the best I have seen in a long long time, I just love the way you go from the Fairy Land and then back to now, it is amazing how the evil queen have people vannish or taken care of, like in the Hansel and Gretle when they put the blind witch in the oven and the evil queen started the fire, and also on the one with the genie, and the king and father of Snow White, and the 2 headed snake, and how the genie went into the mirror.

  2. I was wondering why Emma couldn’t tell that Sidney was lying? I thought her super power was telling if people were telling the truth or not. Since she didn’t sense Sidney was lying, maybe he is a double agent.

    • That’s a good observation!

      I wonder if the writers simply forgot about Emma’s “super power” — her ability to tell when people are lying. They made a big deal about it in the first episode, so I expected it to come up a lot — but then it was never even mentioned again until one time in a recent episode. So that’s why I had started thinking the writers just forgot.

      Emma has been fooled in the past by Regina acting through a proxy. When Archie, reluctantly doing Regina’s bidding, set Emma up to be charged with a crime by giving her Henry’s file, Emma seemed to be taking Archie at his word. So whatever her powers of lie detection might be, they aren’t infallible.

      As for Sidney, I hope for his own sake that he is a double agent and not really a willing servant of Regina. We’ve seen what Regina does to her loyal servants, like her father. Plus, I’d like to think that Sidney is getting tired of an eternity of unrequited love.

  3. i posted in the wrong place before. i love this show. so has anyone noticed that on the book’s title the letters O, U, and T are highlighted. im wondering if the book is the way out to storybrook. Maybe that is how this writer “stranger” can get out of Storybrook. Maybe he deletes his story so that he doesnt exist there. i guess we will find out.

  4. The EQ having set the curse , clouds Emma’s superpower. Could the stranger be Henry grown up?
    Could he be the auther of the book?

    • He can’t be grown up Henry. he is almost Emma’s age it looks like. I read somewhere that he is a criminal in Fairytale Land. He knows about a curse and is going to help Henry in making Emma believe in the curse. His name is Jefferson. I am just trying to figure out who he is in fairytale land. A criminal in a fairytale. I’m wondering if he is the big bad wolf. You know the big bad wolf did write a book. “Three little pigs as told by the wolf.” I think that Sydney is still going to be on Emma’s side and they are both just making the EQ believe other wise.

  5. Let’s start a list of who the stranger could be…
    Big Bad Wolf
    Robin Hood

  6. Here’s a combination of things other people have suggested here and things I just thought of now:

    — One of the Grimm brothers
    — Hans Christian Andersen
    — Henry, grown up (would involve some kind of time travel or wrinkle in time)
    — Henry’s father (who Emma, for some reason, doesn’t recognize)
    — Rumpelstiltskin’s son
    — Someone from Greek mythology (we know the show could go there because they used Midas) who was involved with story-telling … but all I can think of is the Muses, and they were all female
    — Walt Disney (joking)
    — Someone who is skilled in the art of escape (since, if he is a fairytale character, he was able to get out of Storybrooke despite the curse)

  7. I hate the way Snow’s father treats Regina

What do you think?